“An American in Paris” Broadway Review – Bringing Ballet To Broadway

“An American In Paris” Broadway Review

An American In Paris Broadway Review

“An American in Paris” Broadway is a challenging, daring and resplendent re-imagining of the Academy Award winning MGM musical. The creative teams’ artistry cannot be overstated – they have taken a frothy Hollywood gem and given it texture, depth and power.

Fans of the Gene Kelly film are in for a surprise. The brilliant book by Craig Lucas offers a very different look into the life of Jerry, an American GI staying on in Paris to paint after WWII. Although the MGM version is set in WWII right after the war, Paris and its endlessly colorful characters seem to have been untouched by the Nazi occupation.dancing-with-the-kids People sip coffee in quaint cafes and tap dance down lovely cobblestone streets to the effervescent music of the Gershwin brothers.

“An American In Paris” Broadway Review – Not The Movie You Know

“An American in Paris” Broadway offers a very different view. The people of Paris live in a city that has been occupied and scarred.An American In Paris Broadway Review The power goes out. Lives have been changed. The Holocaust has happened. And yet the City of Light is still alive and hope is cutting through the rubble. Against this background, An American In Paris Broadway creates a romantic and balletic story. Ballet is as much a center of the story as Paris and the Gershwin music. After the show (which I loved) I heard people complain about the darker tone and the emphasis on ballet. If audiences approach the show expecting the Paris and gaiety of MGM and Gene Kelly they will be sorely disappointed.

As one who loves the music of Gershwin, I found the beautiful orchestrations played by superb musicians enhanced the serious tone of the musical. Standards like “But Not For Me” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” become all the more beautiful in the milieu of lives and a city being rebuilt.

None of this is a criticism of the MGM musical, which is rightly hailed as a great film. These are just two very different works.

Robert Fairchild as Jerry is a revelation. Long hailed as a ballet star, he reveals leading man charisma and singing. He combines sexiness and grace, self doubt and magnetism. While I am a Gene Kelly fan, I’ve long believed he tried so hard to make “serious” dance a part of his films that it can seem forced, as if he he had a set of tortured expressionsGene Kelly - An American In Paris Broadway Review to use to cue us when we were supposed to take the dance seriously. FairchildAn American In Paris Broadway Review is leading-man handsome and a marvelous singer as well as an acclaimed, world-class dancer. But his expression never looks forced. His dancing is just an extension of himself – his amazing moves speak for themselves.

The supporting cast is superb. Leanne Cope, as the fragile but so strong heroine, brings amazing depth to her role. Bus as in the best musicals, like “Something Rotten” and “On The Town,” the producers made the decision to cast supporting roles with great care and then gave them wonderful moments on stage. This is not a diva-driven musical; it is an artistic piece that uses dance to tell a story. Rather than relying on big names (other than the Gershwins!), An American in Paris trusts the audience to appreciate an alluring and amazingly talented cast.

“An American In Paris” Broadway Review

Will you enjoy it? I did. But your reaction is likely to be influenced by the degree to which you appreciate ballet. Let go of Gene Kelly and the rose An-American-in-Paris-gene-kelly-24015889-1067-800and a Paris that is so pert and pretty and open yourself to a very different take on a romantic love story. If you enjoy ballet (or are willing to experience it) you will find the rich, textured joys of “An American in Paris” on Broadway unforgettable.

 

4 thoughts on ““An American in Paris” Broadway Review – Bringing Ballet To Broadway

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  2. This has to be one of my favorite reimaginings… reimaginations… (?) of all time. I wasn’t sure I would like it since I’m not a particularly big fan of ballet but once I saw it, it blew my socks off.

    • Ken –

      I completely agree with you! I thought the producers were incredibly daring to abandon the easy (and no doubt profitable) approach of just recreating a beloved masterpiece. They challenged the audience and I thought the results were fascinating and powerful.

  3. Pingback: Something Rotten ReviewSpeaking For A Change

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